Swinging summer; Partner-swapping, nude black beauty pageants, tantric sex. You name it, it's all there on this Caribbean fantasy island, reports PAUL ENGLISH.
MAGGIE HODGKINSON had never been asked by a stranger to take her clothes off before. Yet when it happened to her on a beach in Jamaica, the 52-year-old duly obliged.
As she stood sipping her Pina Colada at a beach bar, a burly man approached her and chastised her.
"Sorry, but if you want to stay here, you'll have to take off all your clothes," said the security guard at the nudist beach.
Maggie had no choice but to oblige. Heading to the nearest sunlounger, she peeled off to her birthday suit and joined the other nudes at the bar.
Forget your fortnight of Mills and Boons by the pool-side. What Maggie saw on her first time at Hedonism would need triple X certification.
The Nottingham-based petrol station assistant was living the Hedonism holiday experience - in what is probably the world's premier no-holds-barred resort.
This week, viewers will again be able to follow the exploits of the woman known as Maggie "Whiplash" Hodgkinson, and a host of others who head to the resort for the ultimate in self indulgence. Yep, it's the the return of ITV's Pleasure Island.
And we're not talking table-top karaoke after too much sangria here.
Oh, no. Instead, think swinging on the high seas. Partner-swapping in the hot tub. One-on-one body-painting "celebrations" on the beach, nude cruises and naked Twister.
Nobbly knees contests don't get a look in. For competitions, try the Miss Black Nude Beauty Pageant or the Fantasy Fetish Ball. Make no mistake - there's more spice here than in a vat of Jamaican rum.
While Maggie is one of the nude body paint enthusiasts, she knows where to draw the line.
"All the naughty activities go on at night time," she says. "You see couples and threesomes and things like that. It was a bit shocking at first and it still is really, but as long as they don't involve me in it then I'm fine."
She got the nickname Whiplash after a previous visit to Hedonism saw her dress up as Xena Warrior Princess. But her leather whip and face mask saw her dubbed with the kinky moniker instead.
"It's all a laugh really," she giggles. "The name just stuck from there."
She has no doubt that the fleshy Friday night TV makes for great viewing.
"After the last series, I was walking around shopping centres and folk would come up to me and ask me if I was the woman off the telly with the dirty laugh.
"Some of the customers at the petrol station said that Friday nights just weren't the same for them once the series had stopped."
Maggie's thing is body art, not swinging or partner swapping. Quite the opposite in fact. She persuaded her husband Chris to go out to the resort last year to get hitched.
"He really was quite nervous about going nude. At one point I managed to introduce him to some American friends I'd met at the resort before.
"They could tell he was nervous," she says. "So they went to give him a hug and pulled his shorts down. That was him. He was fine in the nude after that."
Viewers will see how the newly liberated Chris managed to keep his shorts on for the majority of the time because of the bad weather.
When it finally came to getting married, there was never any question of Chris and Maggie having a naturist wedding. That could have caused all sorts of problems. For one, where would the best man have kept the rings?
"We had a proper wedding," says Maggie. "Me in a wedding dress and him in a white tuxedo."
The question is, though, with all this nudity around, how can any stag and hen night japes be anything other than run-of-the-mill?
Best man Dave and bridesmaid Janet duly organised "something special" for the occasion. The mind boggles.
For all their nudity and their penchant for body paint, Chris and Maggie were hardly the most outrageous people there.
Take 31-year-old Peter Snow from Jersey, who, along with girlfriend Trina, decided to hit Hedonism to sample the thrill of "swinging" for the first time.
A previous trip to the island left Peter in no doubt that swinging was the ultimate expression of freedom.
Alas, it doesn't turn out that way for the couple. Trina gets friendly with a bloke who caught her eye and, surprise surprise, Peter suddenly decides that swinging just isn't his thing after all.
Then there's Barry Stock and Rona Ling from Ipswich, who hold swinging parties at home. They headed out to Hedonism for Kinky Week.
Into tantric sex, spiritualism and body piercings, they're sure to be the talk of the steamie in Ipswich after their partner-swapping antics are transmitted to the nation.
Not everyone got into the swing of swinging though. For Rob and Bekki Wilson from East Yorkshire, watching was safer than playing.
"You're under no pressure to take part in anything at all," says Rob. "Everything's there for you.
"All you need to bring is an open mind."
For Rob, 39, and his wife Bekki, 25, some things went beyond the pale. Especially the Festival of Fantasy Fetish and Fashion.
"It was all a bit 'out there'," explains Rob. "There were fetishists getting hooks stuck through their skin on their back and chest to make a corset stitched together through their skin.
"We ended up walking away from that one when the blood started pouring down the back of one bloke.
"They like it - I have no idea why - but they like it. And that's what Hedonism's all about."
Sights like this would presumably make partner-swapping tame by comparison. But not for Rob and Bekki.
"It was a bit odd seeing folk saunter into the dining room wearing practically nothing," says Rob.
"There would be people having sex next to you on the beach and in the pool.
"The Americans were the worst for partner-swapping. They were at it left, right and centre, although they were mostly in their 40s and 50s and totally plastic."
Rob and Bekki did get into the spirit of things on the nude cruise, and on the nudist beach. Rob even attempted to perform a lap-dance, but overall they were happy voyeurs.
"Sometimes I think the presence of the cameras managed to actually tame things down a bit.
"I think things would be a bit crazier without them. We run a business at home, getting your kit off on the TV can be a bit iffy in that respect.
"So we just tried to play it for laughs, and I think we came across more as a sort of version of George and Mildred on the nudist beach."
The thought of which would be enough to make even the most debauched hedonist turn green at the gills. Heaven forbid.
Pleasure Island, ITV, Friday, 10.00pm
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|Publication:||Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)|
|Date:||Jun 30, 2001|
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